The commencement of the programme has however put paid to speculations that it may not hold after all. Historically, the introduction of pre-registration examination was adopted in PCN’s Pharmacy Education Conference in 2001, and it is meant for fresh pharmacy graduates who have completed the twelve-month mandatory internship prior to seeking full registration to practice pharmacy in Nigeria. The examinations are to hold twice every year – March and October.
The objective of the pre-registration examination according to PCN is to ascertain that those who have undertaken the internship programme have acquired the requisite knowledge, attitudes and skills to practice pharmacy in Nigeria without endangering the public health. We fully support the PCN for the implementation of this programme because many of the interns do not get exposed to the minimum standards expected of them during internship.
Unlike what currently obtains, the new policy as articulated by the PCN seeks among other things to ensure that during internship, a cub pharmacist is exposed to the basic rudiments in pharmacy practice in a broader sense. A pharmacist is now expected to be knowledgeable in pharmacy areas such as community, Industrial, Academic, Hospital and Administrative domains. That is the essence of internship.
Pre-registration examination is an international practice. In Nigeria, it is necessary to guarantee the quality of entrants to pharmacy profession for the common good of the society. With the advent of several public and private schools of pharmacy, there is a wide variation in the quality of students on admission and of course the quality of graduates. Therefore, pre-registration examination will become the final clearance house for all.
Besides, there is the need to strengthen the process of registration of intending pharmacists in Nigeria in such a way that a licensed pharmacist would be exposed to a broad range of competences especially given the demands of the new global philosophy in pharmaceutical practice anchored on pharmaceutical care.
The scope of pharmacy practice now includes patient-centred care with all the cognitive functions of counselling, providing drug information and monitoring drug therapy, as well as technical aspects of pharmaceutical services, including medicines supply management. This has been going on over the past 40 years around the world and Nigeria cannot afford to lag behind.
The concept of the seven-star pharmacist introduced by the World Health Organisation and taken up by Federation of International Pharmacists in 2000 in its policy statement on Good Pharmacy Education Practice sees the pharmacist in many lights. He is a caregiver, communicator, decision-maker, teacher, life-long learner, leader as well as manager.
It is therefore not out of place for PCN to initiate and implement a policy that would help to bring the operating standards of licensed pharmacists in Nigeria in line with globally acceptable practices. This practice has taken root in so many countries around the world including neighbouring Ghana, South Africa, and the United States, etc. Evidences abound in those societies to show that they are reaping tremendously from the performance of pharmacists in aiding qualitative healthcare delivery.
The threat by the coalition of ex-Presidents of Association of Pharmaceutical Students, to take PCN to court on account of implementing the pre-registration examination programme is rather hasty and may have been ill informed. The PCN is sufficiently empowered by law to execute such an exercise. Specifically, Act CAP P17 of 2014 mandates PCN to determine among other functions the standards of knowledge and skills to be attained by persons seeking to become registered members of the pharmacy profession.
In addition, there is the need for the profession to respond to change, and the only way to become relevant with time is to embrace new ideas. Pharmacy is a global profession and there are changes that have occurred worldwide in response to changes in healthcare delivery system, and Nigeria cannot afford to lag behind.